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Photo by Lois Cohen, styling by Indiana Roma Voss

Munroe Bergdorf in conversation with Love Bailey

Our LGBTQ+ Editor talks to the California-based queer artist and polymath about beauty hacks and upcoming projects

As well as being a bronzed sex goddess, an important activist for transgender rights and an all-around 21st Century trailblazer, Munroe Bergdorf has managed to squeeze in the time to become our LGBTQ+ Editor at Dazed Beauty, and we're incredibly excited about it. This means that over the coming months Munroe will be speaking to her favourite LGBTQ+ icons about some of the most pressing issues facing the LGBTQ+ community today, as well as asking: when your identity is inherently marginalised, what does it take to feel beautiful? Below, the third in the series.

"Love Bailey is the crimson-tressed, artist performer and director hailed as a 'cultural visionary' by community and industry alike," explains Munroe Bergdorf of her decision to interview Love Bailey. "Everyone that I speak to, especially in America, will ask 'do you know Love?' We've yet to meet, but everyone has such lovely things to say, so I wanted to catch up with this one woman tour de force and speak about everything from supporting queer artists to how she discovered her own striking aesthetic and what beauty must-haves she absolutely can't go without..."

So whereabouts are you in the world at the moment?
Love Bailey: Just getting a little nibble at Café Gratitude, a healthy place in Los Angeles. I just got done with a fitting at Paramount Studios for the season finale of Transparent, which I will be dancing in, so I'm working on that and promoting the fundraiser for the Ranch Residency building that will house underprivileged artists on our queer sanctuary known as the Savage Ranch, in California. 

Fantastic. Can you tell us a little bit about the ranch?
Love Bailey: 
Yeah, so my mother, Mama Savage, bought the property about five years ago. It was her dream to create a family up there and so she rescued animals and she has two foster kids. It's kind of her labour of love, and she's given it to me, and we've created this artist sanctuary so that people can come without discrimination, without racism, without homophobia and just drop down their walls.

Who are some of the artists creating at the ranch?
Love Bailey: Millie Brown [performance artist] came out and did a piece, and we just had Jodie Harsh [musician] come out – we're working on a film together.

Love Bailey: Ellen von Unwerth has also come out and she shot a series that we're launching in February. Then we just did a spread for V Magazine where we shot all the boys at the ranch.

Tell us about the film you made with Joseph Wilson a few months ago.
Love Bailey: 
There was this amazing dance troupe led by Joshua Base Pilmore from London on Instagram that choreographed a routine to my song "Hollywood Hooker". During my stay in London I hit them up and we worked on a piece to my remix together. Then we found an empty field that resembled the ranch (on Hampstead Heath) where we got dressed up and danced together. Joseph had been documenting my previous trips to London with Sussi at the Box so we decided to finish what we started and bring this video to life!

Are you creating any projects at the moment that are gonna be built around the ranch? Because I saw that it has a big emphasis on the safe space aspect...
Love Bailey: Yeah, we're doing the ranch residency! So right now we're fundraising to make a building and we're gonna create living and work spaces for artists that want to come out and stay for longer periods of time. I'm working on Jodie's [Harsh] film. We shot some of that at the ranch and we'll be shooting more at the ranch there.

Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Love Bailey: Jodie is doing a film on her coming-of-age story and it's a film which I think a lot of queers can resonate with, and without giving the storyline away, we're going to create a narrative that people can relate to, about having to rise above it, having an empowering story... because there are all these queer narratives where trans people have to become hookers to survive, but I want to give a different story and one that's empowering for kids.

On a beauty point, how would you describe the Love Bailey look?
Love Bailey: I had a straight girl recently ask me, 'Don't you think living your life as a woman is living a lie?' and I found that really interesting because a lot of people think it's not truthful, but honey I've sipped on that truth tea and it is not the fantasy. For me, beauty is creating the fantasy, it's creating the person you want to be and dreaming about that person, and visualizing that person. For me, that's beauty, just not holding back.

“I've been assaulted in many venues and kicked out of many venues for expressing myself and that's why I'm so passionate about the ranch”

Who were your idols growing up? Who did you look up to?
Love Bailey: My grandmother raised me and she was a showgirl post-war, so she would dance in the military balls in the 1940s. I grew up with this sense of freedom to express yourself. She let me play in her closet so I didn't really have to come out of the closet... I was in her closet playing.

Can you see any of your grandma in how you look now?
Love Bailey: Oh, yes. A lot of my choices, especially with the colour red, my love of the colour red is because of her.

That was going to be my next question, like, why the red?
Love Bailey: It's sort of my call to action, it's my call to be the woman I want to be and follow my heart.

The way that I see the trans movement going at the moment is all of our messages coming together to build a tapestry, there doesn't need to be one message. How would you stitch that tapestry, what would that compile of? What's your message?
Love Bailey: For me, it goes beyond gender, it goes beyond the label of your gender. We come to the ranch to hold hands together without fear, to sort of embrace the higher self that we want to be, whether you want to be a mermaid or whatever your fantasy is, you can do that. You can play dress up and explore that and there shouldn't be any judgement or boundaries. The ranch is important to me because so much of what we do in queer nightlife is in these dark spaces. We're in these clubs where there are straight people who don't accept us and I've been assaulted in many venues and kicked out of many venues for expressing myself and that's why I'm so passionate about the ranch - it's a space where we can be in the daylight and free with nature and not have some asshole assaulting us and telling us what we can and can't do. 

What would you like us to see as a society moving forward in how we speak about beauty?
Love Bailey: Less about the surface of our beauty, less about how we look on the outside and more about how we feel on the inside.

What makes you feel beautiful?
Love Bailey: I guess my smile, being happy. Waking up with a sense of joy, with a sense of urgency to create, a sense of freedom to do so. That's what makes me beautiful.

And finally, what’s your desert island beauty product?
Love Bailey: I can't live without the red Fenty Lip Paint and vaseline on my camera lens for that soft filter effect. I also use Pat McGrath for all my metallic reflective fantasies!